11 Dec Holiday tips for separated couples
The gift of positivity at Christmas time
How to manage the holidays when you’re separated
Staying positive during the Christmas holidays can be difficult for many families. When you add a separation or divorce to the mix, it can present a range of challenges you may never have considered. In order to give yourself, your ex, your children or your extended family the greatest opportunity for joy, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get the most out of your situation.
Manage your attitude
Holiday times can bring up many difficult emotions for couples who are separating or divorced. Staying positive sounds like a great idea and can definitely help, but how do you achieve it when you’re in the midst of a family split? And does it really make that much of a difference? We’ve drawn from a range of studies and have included some tried and tested techniques that experts say can help you manage your attitude, emotions and outcomes during stressful times.
Why your attitude is important
You certainly don’t have to be a ‘Pollyanna’ and only look at the good points, ignoring reality, but the more attention you give to creating a peaceful outlook on your situation, the better memories you’ll end up making.
When you steer away from blame, regret, victimisation or victimhood you allow yourself (and others involved) the opportunity to learn, grow and experience joy, no matter what the circumstances.
Staying positive will help you to:
- reduce judgement and blame
- clearly communicate your needs and wants
- have a greater chance of having your expectations met
- find new opportunities for happiness
Tips for staying positive and managing stress
When you find yourself in a frustrated, disappointed or depressed state it can be difficult to remember what makes you feel better. Take some time to determine in advance what lifts you up when you’re feeling down. Make a list of these activities and keep them handy. When family stress takes its toll, choose something from your list and give yourself permission to improving your attitude and outlook.
Here are a few ideas you could use to get your list started:
- find things to be thankful for – gratitude increases positivity
- volunteer – helping those less fortunate than yourself can put your troubles into perspective
- spend time in nature – just 20 minutes can reduce your stress hormones
- get active – exercise increases feel-good hormones
- call a friend – enjoy focusing on things that are going well rather than what is not working with your ex or family
- watch a movie or read a book – an enjoyable escape can put you in a better frame of mind
- meditate or do a mindfulness activity – staying in the present can dissipate unhelpful emotions and allow you to see aspects you had not previously considered
- consciously visualise your ideal future – create a vision board with images that represent your most enjoyable holiday or lifestyle
Sharing care over the holidays
Deciding ‘who gets the kids’ for Christmas can be a tricky negotiation, made even harder when two extended families need to be taken into account. It is important to ensure you are taking the children’s needs into account as you and your ex-partner determine this arrangement.
Whilst it might be difficult to accept, if it’s your first holiday without your children you might find yourself with a lot more time on your hands than you are used to. If you think you’ll feel lonely, keeping occupied and creating new traditions will help you find new ways to enjoy the holidays.
Tips for helping children cope with changing holiday arrangements
Creating certainty around new arrangements can help your children cope with the changing circumstances that separation and divorce necessarily bring. Knowing your children are ok with a situation can make it easier for both parents to contend with potentially upsetting situations.
- give children as much information as they are able to understand
- let them know which parent they will be with for each part of the holiday
- know what triggers stress in your children and plan well to avoid these things
- speak to your children often while they are away from you
- be positive and encouraging about what your children do while they are with the other parent
Getting help over the holidays
If the holiday period becomes overly stressful and you find yourself without the support you need, contact one of the professional services listed below for assistance.
Lifeline 13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Salvation Army 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277 https://www.relationships.org.au
Toomey Family Law is also available to help you with the settlement of your separation, divorce or parenting arrangements. Contact us to find out how our dedicated team can help.